Art Seen: International

SEEING SONGS: BARBARA BLOOM // MUSICAL SCORES


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Selected by Stephanie Cristello

If images have voices, Barbara Bloom gives them resonance.

The following selection of works, produced by the artist for Issue 05 of THE SEEN, consists of five compositions from the series entitled Songs. In contextualizing these works, the vocabulary of music is helpful in at least a few ways. For Bloom, the inflection (read: tone) of the image is one defined not only by ‘composition’—a term that refers to organizational representation in visual art, as well as its notational function in music—but also in the linguistic comparisons that come along with appropriation of the score as a form. For example, the presumed ‘literacy’ of the image is mirrored by the assumption that one can ‘read’ music. In a more practical sense, the works function as expressions of music terminology in and of themselves—after all, the series consists of various found photographs suspended on a staff (a fermata). Though, one could also say that this conceptual method of culling, collecting, and display acts as a type of pause or extension of the viewer’s attentiveness to Bloom’s source material. In their relationship to time, the pace of the images—their tempo, pitch, and syncopation—unfolds like a melody in a similar durational fashion.

Barbara Bloom: the conductor of images.

In any combination of these elements, each of Bloom’s Songs performs in a cadence that is at once referential, acutely observational, and critical. We see their sounds: pictures of black and white advertisements slide in elaborate scales, images of disparate crowds are grouped tightly together as if they were somehow united, or the poignant humor in depicting ‘musical chairs.’ Every page is a silent symphony. In each of these works, Bloom articulates the capacity to translate the senses, allowing sight and sound to exist as one. The rest is for the reader to compose.

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